May 2016 News

4000 J&K Youths Stranded In PoK Send Feelers For Return

30 May 2016
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: At least 4000 youth from Jammu and Kashmir, who had crossed over to Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) for arms training during past over two and half decades, have repeatedly been calling their homes and relatives seeking facilitation of their return but Intelligence and security agencies have reservations that some of them, if allowed to return, could be recycled into the militancy. Official sources told the Excelsior that 'very specific inputs' gathered by Intelligence agencies of different security forces have revealed that there were at least 4000 youths from Jammu and Kashmir, mostly hailing from the Kashmir valley, Chenab Valley and twin border districts of Rajouri and Poonch, who had been held up in PoK as they were unable to return to the State due to fencing and series of anti-infiltration measures taken by security forces. While majority of 4000 youths were camping in PoK, there were very few, who have been staying in parts of Pakistan. According to sources, around 300 to 400 of the J&K youths were still living with the militants including their camps or launching pads and can be described as 'active militants' while others have taken to manual jobs to earn their livelihood as good number of them have married there. 'Most of these youths had exfiltrated to PoK from the Line of Control (LoC) during nineties. Almost all of them had undergone training in militant camps of Hizbul Mujahideen, Lashkar-e-Toiba, Al-Badr, Jaish-e-Mohammad and Harkat-ul-Jehad Islami among others. However, they couldn't infiltrate back to Jammu and Kashmir due to mechanism put in place by security agencies on the LoC including fencing. Some of them stayed put with the militants while others were reported to have left the training camps and the militant groups and start manual job with the traders and small time businessmen to earn their livelihood and feed their wives and children. A number of them had married to the PoK and Pakistani girls while staying there for a longer period like 15 to 25 years. Confirming that number of families of the youths stranded in PoK have received calls seeking intentions of the youths to return home, sources said they wanted their families to facilitate their return as they were fed up with their miserable lives in PoK and other parts. Previous regime of NC-Congress headed by then Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had come out with 'Rehabilitation Policy' for return of the youth held up in PoK but none of the youths take advantage of the Policy as it covered only four routes for return including Poonch-Rawlakote and Uri-Muzaffarabad routes along the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir, Wagah border in Amritsar district of Punjab and Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport in New Delhi. 'The Policy couldn't succeed as Pakistan army and ISI maintained strict vigil over stranded youths-militants to ensure that they didn't cross from the four identified routes,' sources said, adding that over 200 youths returned with their wives and children from Nepal route. Though they were allowed to return from Nepal route under previous UPA regime headed by the Congress at the Centre, they couldn't avail the benefits under the 'Rehabilitation Policy'. Sources said the Intelligence agencies were of the view that the youths-militants, if allowed to return, could become security risk as some of them could be lured by the militants to join militancy while some others could be planted by the agencies from across the border. 'It was in this context that the security agencies were opposing return of youths-militants from PoK through Nepal or any other route on the ground that it could spell trouble and boost the militants, which has gone down considerably over the past few years,' sources said.